AEW Executive Vice Presidents and the number one contender for the AEW World Championship at Full Gear this Saturday, Cody Rhodes, took some time to chat with ESPN Radio about All Elite Wrestling's progress since premiering on TNT last month.
"I would give [the process so far] an A," Cody said. "I'd say 4 of the 5 shows, I would give an A+. I only say that because the execution is the main thing. We have to execute. We have this long-form plan and we have been planning this for quite some time. It is more of a traditional booking than writing. Traditional booking you are going backward from these major events; I have to stop being a fan on a pretty regular basis when it comes to Dynamite itself and when it comes to TV.
"I am honored by everything that happens. I am honored that I have a chair for myself in the go-position, I have my own headset, I am honored that I have my own office. All these little things I have to stop caring about and just say, 'Okay, cool, that's great. Now, let's validate why these things exist.'
Cody is confident that with his fellow Executive VPs Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Kenny Omega by his side, they will continue finding successful ways to manage backstage and also continue performing as pro wrestlers in AEW. Cody is thrilled that AEW can offer things like healthcare, blood work, and certain forms of therapy to their entire roster of stars.
"I am flanked by Matt and Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega, Tony Khan and, man, if there's ever been someone - if you ever feel like you are not pulling your weight, someone else is pulling it for you and that flow is really essential because we have to wrestle as well since we are wrestlers," Cody explained. "And in this case I found myself in the title picture of the first pay-per-view view of the Dynamite era, so it's great to do it as a team. I am so happy with the team. I can go on and on - there's such a crack medical staff and now all these independent wrestlers have medical treatment, Physiotherapists, and blood work.
"I don't know why I am sounding so excited about all this stuff but it's just because I never thought when I left WWE, with the exception of when All In happened, but I never thought - I mean, All In was this treat. It was like, 'Okay, we had this one night. We have all of these perks of a major company and then you have this founder in Tony Khan who provides you the biggest possible canvas. And you know you have talented guys and talented kids like Private Party and Darby Allin. This entire thing is a dream at the moment; this entire first bit of Dynamite."
Cody spent some time discussing the fact that Chris Jericho's is indeed the highest paid contract in all of AEW. Cody revealed that he, Jericho, and Kenny Omega were determined to be the "quarterback" for AEW when the company was first presented to them.
"I would say that initially with Chris Jericho and the amount of money that he has been paid by AEW, and having the largest contract on the roster - but, in the very beginning, there were three people that said, 'I want to be the quarterback.' Three people; and it's funny that Tony's from the NFL. Kenny Omega was one, I was one, and Chris Jericho was one. That sounds like it's a recipe for disaster perhaps in other worlds, but in the wrestling world, it's a recipe for success. He's competing for the greatness of his own self; he's trying to show an entire locker room, some who are only from the indie generation who aren't WWE fans so they aren't popping for him every time he walks by. He is trying to show - and he is being successful in showing that there is a reason he's who he is. There's a reason he's a first ballot Hall of Famer, there's a reason he's the World Champion."
As the Wednesday night ratings war continues between AEW and NXT, Rhodes isn't surprised that they're bringing in former NXT stars like Finn Balor into the fold to compete. Cody predicts that these radical moves will likely keep happening as the ratings continue to favor AEW.
"I was expecting The Undertaker to be teaming with Johnny Gargano on night one and all that good stuff, but I am more mindful of it post-Wednesday. I have a lot of friends in that locker room," Cody stated. "My dad's boots are sitting at the Performance Center, so I am more mindful post- Wednesday, but we go into it more of the idea of what we are doing. But then you have everyone else that is in your ears; I am aware [of Finn arriving in NXT] and I actually got to see the Pele Kick that he got to do and the 'turn' as it has been dubbed. Triple H is not a stupid guy.
"It is public knowledge that we are 5 weeks in [the 'Wednesday Night Wars'] and 5 weeks in a row [now 6] AEW has beaten NXT in the ratings, and those things will continue to happen," Cody continued. "That only brings out the best in us because I think we are untapped. I think we have new, homegrown people that are going to be coming up through the ranks - people like Nyla Rose, people like Rhio. I think they can compete with any wrestling roster. Our tag division that Matt and Nick Jackson have cultivated - so, I would just expect more of that. That is what this is; we are living in a period of two wrestling shows competing against each other for the wrestling viewer and the casual fan, so, we will see more of that."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit ESPN Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.